When I begin to work with people on their life issues, I always start by trying to figure out just how motivated they are to want to make the changes necessary for real change to take place. I always hear things like, “I want to lose weight”, or “I want to be a better husband/wife”, or “I need to start performing better at my job or else I may get fired.”
These are all good goals to have but in the end they are just words if you are unwilling to do the hard work of turning them from ideas to realities. In order to affect true change in your life, you need to not only be committed to a plan of action, but real change only occurs when you commit yourself to doing the hard things first.
Have you ever watched the Biggest Loser on television? They never have them begin by walking in a pool or jumping rope. The trainers put them on the treadmill and making them run until they give out. While this may seem cruel to us, what the trainers are doing is shocking their bodies into realizing that hard work is about to happen and they need to prepare for the pain. That saying, “No pain, no gain” is very true. The only way to make a muscle larger and strengthen it is to actually make micro tears in it. God made our muscles to realize they are torn and then fix themselves and even make the torn area stronger just in case this happens again. Isn’t God awesome?!!!
In order to make changes in our lives, we must act exactly like our muscles do – we must do the hard things first, and then rest and let the ‘muscles’ heal by doing the simpler things. Let me give you an example of a recent success I have had with a couple who were struggling with their marriage, to the point of them both agreeing that a divorce was imminent.
After talking with each person individually to try to understand the issues from their point of view, I then got them both in the same room and we did a “process group” session. I sat them down facing each other and asked them to start by telling each other how they felt right at that moment. I got answers like, “ok I guess” and “I’ve been better.” You can tell by these answers that they knew the hard work was ahead of them, but they were not committed to doing it. We needed to get to the heart of their feelings or else they would end up divorced simply because they were both “lazy and comfortable in their mess.”
It is a shame, but people will get comfortable in their trials and it can soon become a way of life due to avoidance. You see, often times it is harder to get out of a mess than it is to simply lay down and roll around in it and simply complain about it.
So I reminded each of them that when they met with me they were much more specific about their feelings and they needed to share that with each other right now. Words like, “I feel abandoned even when they are in the room with me” were said. Words like, “They never do anything they say they will do” came out. These are hard words, but they are the truth about how they are feeling. When one of them said they felt abandoned by the other, the other persons eyes started welling up and they said, “I had no idea you felt that way.”
When you need to break concrete apart, you do not use a banana to do it. That would be foolish. When you need to get to the heart of an issue, you need to use the hard tools to get to the center of the emotion and why you are feeling it. Let me tell you, words like “abandonment”, “habitually lies all the time”, “is abusive” will cut through the concrete of your issues really quickly. These are words that need to be spoken because they are what are being felt. This is doing the “hard work” first.
This principle is exactly the same no matter what problem you are facing. I have had people tell me they are on diets and then watch them order a large pizza and ice cream. When I ask what kind of diet that is, they tell me, “Oh I’m going to start tomorrow.” I’m glad they have been promised a tomorrow because no one else I know has been!
The absolute best time to fix a problem, especially a relationship problem, is right this minute. The longer you let it go, the worse it gets. Do the hard work now!
Have you ever taken a bandage off a cut and try to peel it off slowly? It hurts 100 times worse and the pain last much longer than if you just rip it off. Our relationship issues are exactly the same. Deal with them now while you have the chance and things are not too far gone to repair.
No matter what problem your trying to solve, when you start by tackling the hardest part first, you get things solved quicker and then you are left with the easy stuff at the end!
What problems do you need to deal with right this minute while you still can??
Pastor Brad Komgenick